Americans too suit-happy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 31, 2006

To the Editor:

America’s lead in science and technology may be slipping.

But our lead in lawsuits isn’t threatened at all.

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The numbers are in, and they’re not pretty.

In 2004, 2.2 percent of America’s gross domestic product was made up of lawsuit costs. That’s $260 billion in lawsuits – $860 for every man, woman and child in the country.

It gets worse. On average, lawsuit costs have grown two to three percent faster than the American economy since 1950. From 2001 to 2004, the increase in lawsuit costs was more than double the rate of America’s economic growth. That means more and more of our productivity is eaten up by lawsuits every year.

America’s lawsuit culture drives businesses overseas, scares away investment in America, and puts doctors out of business. We need a change of direction that protects the individual but doesn’t cripple America’s economy.

Here’s one idea. Personal injury lawyers should be held responsible for filing junk lawsuits. If a judge finds a case to be frivolous, the lawyer that filed the case should be forced to pay for court costs. This will help focus our courts on only the most worthy cases and free the American economy from the constant threat of lawsuits.

According to a 2006 US Chamber’s study, Alabama ranks 47th in the nation when it comes to tort reliability and a predicable civil justice system. It’s time to create a 21st Century system of civil justice that provides faster solutions and reduces the negative effects on our economy and still guarantees every American the right to justice.

Michael Ciamarra

Birmingham, Ala.